Friday, October 14, 2011

Is Anywhere Public Domain Anymore?

Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

The recent Occupy Wall Street protests will likely reach a critical point later this morning when New York Police will presumably remove protestors in order to clean the park, a move that is seen as a front for a permanent eviction.

I like this quote from fellow SFer Travis Nogle in the NYTimes' City Blog: "This is a public park privately held — I don’t even understand what that means.”

I'm confused too.

It's all further evidence that what was once a fundamental right to roam is increasingly limited by a tightening definition of ownership. While I fully endorse the idea privatizing the maintenance of public parks, to suggest that this gives these private companies the right to restrict access to what has been known as common space since the beginning of New York's history is a complete misinterpretation of the law. The commons get's smaller by the day.

Just as bad is the SF Police effort to use the absurd Sit/Lie Ordinance that was bizarrely passed in this city last year to remove protestors' encampments outside the Federal Reserve Building on Market Street. I love hearing in the San Francisco Bay Guardian article by Yael Chanoff about plans to plant a garden within the OccupySF encampment to grow crops for the protestors! What if they stay there indefinitely as a symbol of economic injustice, evolving into a self sustaining subculture, a city-within-a-city? It's an absurd scenario, until you remind yourself that these citizens have no intention of leaving and seem increasingly intent on staying put despite the enforcement of laws that trample on the precedent of the public common space.

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